Dude, 1996 was the year that my Mom had all kinds of problems with her gallbladder. I was working as the manager of a Penguin’s Frozen Yogurt in Lancaster, CA. And STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT was looking better and better with every new commercial and trailer.
In the two years since GENERATIONS, I dropped out of college, watched Daniel and Matt go on to high school and withdrew a little from the science fiction club at Antelope Valley High School.
1996 was the year I bought my first computer. I brought Daniel along with me to ask tech savvy questions, and my last bought with computers had been around 1993. That experience went something like this:
DANIEL: What kind of operating system does this one have?
GUY AT BEST BUY: It runs Windows 5.
DANIEL: Would it be possible to turn it back to Window 3.1?
GUY AT BEST BUY: Uhhh…
ME: He’s kidding.
DANIEL: I know Windows 3.1, I can help you with things. But I don’t know Windows 5.
Needless to say, I bought the computer, scanner, printer and a few games (of course there were STAR TREK ones, did you even have to ask?). Despite the fact that Daniel didn’t know Windows 5, I still managed to muddle through and figure it all out. Being a graphic interface, it was not hard to learn.
I do remember this. The Sales Guy at Best Buy said that the hard drive was huge, 1.6 gigs, and I would never be able to fill it up. [Insert laughter that grows more sarcastic with age]
I now have files of this size, which I store on a five terabyte hard drive.
Back to 1996.
With my own PC, I was in business to transition from the Brother word processor I had to this new HP. And I did. I discovered MS Publisher, my favorite and most flexible programs for desktop publishing. I experimented with what I could do and had a blast.
So, the Q-CONTINUUM would be published on the computer. It gave me lots of time to get to know how Publisher worked and create a format I liked.
One of the first projects to tackle was to cover FIRST CONTACT.
I also managed to get on the internet via America On Line. This was good for researching STAR TREK, as well as finding porn. This was dial-up, where a pic of a naked lady might take three minutes to open.
Now, I had also dropped out of college.
I went to this school of higher education with the idea that a degree in English would make me a better writer. In honesty, through most of my college experience, I was frustrated. I didn’t need to know the mechanics of English, I was to be a creative writer. What I didn‘t know what that there was a creative writing program available. If I had known that, I might not have dropped out.
And I didn’t tell my parents that I dropped out.
Instead, I got on my bike and headed towards the park that was between where we lived and the local college. That’s right, I couldn’t even make it at a junior college.
I had been working consistently for a while, and could put my money towards the TREK novels I loved so much. That, and buying the CDs from the Beatles Anthology. My time in the park was about reading TREK, listening to the Beatles and writing for THE Q.
Daniel and Matt had gone on to high school. I didn’t have as much contact with them as I wished. I hung out with Russell a lot and worked at Penguin’s. My time in the park was to recharge my creativity… and to fake still being in college.
See, going to college meant I could live at home for free and still be on my parent’s insurance. I even faked a college transcript (thank you new computer and Ferris Bueller for being tools and inspirations) to make sure the insurance didn’t run out.
I don’t remember the exact time I came clean about not being in college. It might have been around the start of the Fall semester when I told my parents I wouldn’t be going back, that I would work full-time. This is probably the first time I admitted I dropped out before I told my parents.
At this time, I had STAR TREK to focus on. There was a new movie coming out and I wanted to be as informed as possible, so I could write about it in THE Q. My whole life was STAR TREK.
In hindsight, maybe this immersion into TREK was a form of self-protection. College was not what I thought it would be, it was boring and I felt disconnected with my core classes. My parents were struggling to get by. They fought from time to time. My Mom was having health issues related to her gallbladder. I liked my job at Penguin’s slinging yogurt and talking to all the customers who came in. I ran errands with Russ and, on occasion, we’d sit at his Uncle Mike’s Round Table Pizza and talk for hours about TREK and SF in general.
See, Russ was a guy who went deep into TV and Movie SF.
I was pretty much strictly STAR TREK and, on occasion, STAR WARS (more on that at another time).
Russ was instrumental in getting me into BABYLON 5, THE X-FILES, SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND, and a few others. What others, you ask. SeaQUEST, for one. As of this writing, I don’t recall too many others. I do know that Russ owned two VCRs and had them going at any given time. He collected TV shows and I was fortunate enough to benefit from this.
So, we’d sit at the pizza house and eat slice after slice while talking about the dream teams we’d have on our starships if we were the captains. I was always a CLASSIC TREK fan, while Russ opted for all the shows that came after. We sometimes clashed, but to each his own. Good times.
So, my typical day was going to the park (to fake being at school), run around with Russ and then go to Penguin’s for the closing shift.
My time at the park was usually productive. I’d write articles by hand for THE Q and then read. This was time to dream and to think about things in the realm of TREK. Because I was going through a Beatles phase to boot, I rewrote Beatle songs, ala Weird Al, themed around TREK. Shocking, I know. Think of rewriting “Eleanor Rigby” to be about “Jennifer Sisko”.
And then I got a shock. My friend and SF Club Advisor at AVHS, Bradford J. Baumann, the greatest teacher a boy could ever have, was getting married and leaving the school. He’d leave at the Winter break. This meant that THE Q would be no more.
So, I did what all good TREK editors/writers would do, I did everything I ever wanted to.
Nearly all the issues were about FIRST CONTACT. I counted down to this movie as if it were an event. I conducted interviews with Zefram Cochrane. I wrote about the development of warp speed. I had Commander Riker profile director and actor Jonathan Frakes.
When FIRST CONTACT hit theatres on November 22, 1996, I was among the first to see it in Lancaster. My Mom dropped me off at the theatre early that day, she had a checkup for her gallbladder. I sat in the crowded theater and anticipated the movie.
For the first time in all my TREK outings, I had gone by myself.
No Matt, Daniel, Russell or Mom.
It was my Mom who had been with me during THE WRATH OF KHAN and all the way up to GENERATIONS. She told me she wasn’t a fan, but became a fan because I was so passionate about it. My Mom, who put up with endless thoughts about STAR TREK and the future and all the things I had written. My Mom… was not with me. No one was with me.
I sat through the previews and the start of the movie.
And then she was there, my Mom, pushing past people in the aisle I was in to sit in the empty seat next to me.
Her doctor’s appointment had gone well. The homeopathic flush she did got rid of the stones in her gallbladder and the Doctor had said she was in great health. She beat a path to the theater and kept me company as the Borg traveled back in time and tried to assimilate the past.
After the movie, we went to this great hole in the wall Chinese restaurant, the Great Wall. I had the usual, kung pau chicken. Yum.
Chinese food and STAR TREK, two great tastes that take great together. Those two things were, and still are, my greatest weaknesses. You want to give me a great day? Take me to Panda Express and then join me in a mini-TREK marathon. I’m serious, orange chicken and all the TNG eps with the Classic cameos sounds like a great day to me. How about mandarin chicken and every other Q episode? I know! Any two items from Panda and all the series finales, chronologically, starting with ENTERPRISE.
Yes, I have given this some serious thought. I do now all my kid’s birthdays and allergies, so don’t judge me.
As growing up goes, this would be the last TREK film I’d see in theatres with my Mom.
We had a good run, from 1982-96. From me being a six year old to turning twenty.
As this series proves, so far, seeing the TREK movies had a tremendous impact on my life, my point of view. I enjoyed this time with my Mom very much. She supported what I liked and came along for the ride. When I saw STAR TREK (2009), I was living in Pittsburgh, some 2600 miles from my Mom in Lancaster, CA.
But she saw it in theatres and we talked about it here and there.
In 1996, I did not know this would be the last TREK film we’d see together. Neither did I know that we TREK fans were half way through the NEXT GEN movie’s we’d ever have.
But oh, how my life would change over the course of the next two movies.
NEXT TIME: I haven’t seen a bald man in three-hundred years.